By Julianna Duerksen
Twenty-six years ago, my mom showed up with six-month-old me to attend her first-ever CHEC Homeschool Conference. The halls were bustling with enthusiasm, she remembers, as that first generation of homeschoolers planned and dreamed what would become a movement of parents committed to discipling their children at home.
This year, I will be bringing my baby girl for her first homeschool conference. Things have definitely changed since my mom first brought me. Today, I can easily google questions, join Facebook groups, scroll Instagram, or attend online seminars to find answers to homeschool questions. But I firmly believe, just like my mom did, that there’s no substitute for attending a homeschool conference in-person.
- Homeschooling in isolation is dangerous. Homeschooling is a high and sometimes difficult calling, and to make it for the long run, we all need community. While that community needs to come first from my local church, there’s nothing like surrounding myself once a year with like-minded homeschool families. At the conference, we experience this unity while witnessing the amazing diversity of different curriculums, electives, family cultures, and backgrounds. It’s the perfect mix to bounce ideas off each other and encourage one another when the going gets tough. Even more, our children need to see they’re not alone as homeschooled kids. Attending the conference as a family allows everyone to be reminded of why we’ve embraced the homeschool lifestyle.
- It’s important to be reminded that the gospel is to be the central focus of our homeschool and parenting. I love how Paul Washer, keynote speaker this year, said it: “We are commanded to go out into all the world and preach the Gospel. But how sad it would be if we were to accomplish that goal and not care for our own homes?” It’s so easy throughout the year to get sidetracked on how that particular curriculum is working, or if our kids are signed up for enough electives — and forget the crucial calling of ministering the Gospel to our kids. The conference is designed to be that yearly reminder.
- The conference is an amazing opportunity for both parents to attend together and ensure they are on the same page about homeschooling. My own dad can attest to how critical the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference was in moving him from homeschooling is “mom’s thing” to being passionate about discipling his kids! Still today, he regularly reminds other dads to attend alongside their wives, and then take the opportunity to discuss what they’ve learned and how to implement it in their family life.
- Attending a conference is about so much more than curriculum. If you’re overwhelmed by the options, take a breath and attend a workshop. At the end of the day, reminding yourself of the vision for homeschooling is so much more important than what curriculum you choose. The Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference handpicks some of the best, biblically sound speakers from around the nation to encourage you in your journey. I’m especially excited this year to hear keynote speakers Paul Washer, Ruth Chou Simons, and Dr. Jeff Myers. They bring to the table their unique experiences as missionary, artist and mom to five boys, and youth ministry expert to equip us to better raise and educate our children in a Gospel-centered way.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or considering homeschooling for the first time, the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference is a must. It will encourage you to persevere through hard times, inspire you to make Christ the center of your homeschool, and equip you with all the practical tools you need to succeed.
I hope to see you there!